A couple of days ago I visited again Serge at his place, in Commugny, near Geneve.
A couple of years passed after my first and last visit at Audio Consulting's headquarters and must say - being, like all best audio systems I'm aware of - a work-in-progress, Serge and his cohort of Swiss artisans did an incredible series of smaller and bigger adjustements, little steps, one after another, which so deeply transformed and improved the overall sound and music enjoyment and listening pleasure.
We spent a lot of time chatting like every time we meet... it's such a pleasure relating with him: his being technical doesn't mean being boring or supponent or hyped or self-indulging with the superiority of this or that vs. that or those... as a plus, art of conversation is a seldom found treasure, these days, and Serge masters this elusive art, as well.
Mr. Schmidlin owns the rare gift of being doubtful... NOT unsure: his goal and target is always well in his mind...
Just knowing that because of our being humans and unperfect beings, everything is perfectible and the lath can... must be made higher and higher, for the sake of knowledge, self-consciousness and... "artistic orgasm".
Yes, I used the above just as it is and how I felt: a flood of emotions and surprise and pleasure, I'll call it an orgasm, as when we began our listening session, few minutes and a couple of tracks, liquid music, first and, most of all, the incredible Audio Consulting turntable (and Meteor preamp and amps and Rubanoid's speakers, now still more refined and performant since my 2012 visit) were enough.
Let me try to better explain: we repeated the listening of (percussionist) Jonathan Faralli's Sciarrino "Elogio alla Perfezione", a sought-after disk we both learned to appreciate after our mentor Jean Hiraga's suggestion... the music is made of very simple sounds, yet my personal experience at home and the memory of last listening at Serge's, I felt a world of improved music presentation, made of better harmonic complexness and amazing decay of every note in a sort-of continuum and multi-layered hide & seek, where no nuance get lost in thermal or any other distortion... resolution and dynamic of this three ways ALL hand-made ribbon speakers, multi-amped, caps-only/no-mains-while-playing-music fed system using every known trick to get the ultimate awe in listener: the highlight on this Faralli's piece was... Faralli's bowels rumbling during the quietest music passages... unbelievable.
The mike captured a possibly hungry percussionist, a man, of course, so prone to human facts like this boiling bowels sounds coming from his belly.
Trick isn't the way to describe the way Serge get this awesome result, folks.
It's serious, time-consuming, old world way, trial and error... everything is tasted, dissected, tasted again... kept or thrown away and so and on...
Serge humbly told me it's 25 years work to obtain what we heard... he's aware of how good the system sounds, yet he's never 100% pleased and content and this fuels his being so thirsty for every tiniest improvements, as they simply are handy, it's a matter of a few minutes or an year, but they still happens, and happens and...
We experienced together, as a matter of fact, no hypes... it's everything there...
Playing vinyls, we experienced the life-likeness and the normality of the superb 45 rpm recorded by Kavi Alexander and his Water Lily, Meeting by the River, slide acoustic guitars and percussions, Ry Cooder and V.M. Bhatt... the sound of Cooder's guitar was so vastly improved when using only pure, charged caps PSU vs. the above and battery, in parallel... talking about the turntable PSU!!!
Only a bunch of curious and bravehearts can afford such an experience without any shame... and you don't need to be a bat to appreciate it.
I almost was in tears listening to another 45 rpm on Sarastro french label, "Verite du Clavecin", a solo Hemsch harpisichord dated 1755, engineered by the great, late master-recordist Georges Kisselhoff in Paris - I suspect, also if not quoted on record liner notes - at Notre Dame du Liban church, near Pantheon: Mr. Kisselhoff's recording venue of choice for many, many years.
This visit will need more time to be fully digested in all its deepness.
For the moment, I'm only sure I wasn't able to appreciate the above mentioned rumbling bowels from Jonathan Faralli's belly on Gotorama... I only listened to these "sounds" with my smaller system, i.e. Studer A730, Luca Chiomenti's Scherzo amp and Cabasse Dinghy 221 speakers... also if many, many other parameters cannot be compared with Audio Consulting's or Gotorama's systems.
So, my larger system is outperformed by my smaller one and more time is to be spent on fine tuning and lowering noise floor on pianissimos on Gotorama's.
Something Mr. Schmidlin mastered in his reference system as a true sensei-san.
Chapeau to Serge Schmidlin and Audio Consulting of Switzerland for reaching such an high level of musical bliss... making it so easy to be appreciated and enjoyed.
Difficult things made easy is something which only happens to the best... the very best.
Thanking Serge for great experience and hosting... and, hey: I just found my copy of Sarastro's "Verite du Clavecin":-)))